Gun legislation is sometimes called “gun control” or “firearms regulation”. Below are definitions of specific terms which are relevant to this article:
Gun Legislation: These are ordinances, laws or policies that are put together to check the production, possession, selling, transfer, control and usage of firearms or handguns by persons in a state.
Guns: Weapons that embody tubes that are made of metal, with these tubes usually placed in a way that bullets and other explosives are forced forward and shot with a loud noise.
Rights: Legal entitlements or actions that are perceived to be moral and lawful in a state.
Gun Rights: These are lawful entitlements of citizens of a given state to purchase, own or carry guns. Some countries have ordinances and laws that allow their citizens to sell, purchase and go about with firearms, while in other countries, such activities may be very limited.
Gun Control: Gun control is usually synonymous with “gun legislation” because it covers a set of laws that regulate the ownership, sales, and usage of guns in a state.
In a nutshell, gun legislation, control and rights are the entire laws, entitlements and limitations that monitor and check issues regarding guns in a given state – Texas. States that have strict laws regarding handguns normally do not allow certain kinds of firearms to be used by just anyone. Separate kinds of licenses are usually issued out for purposes like hunting, shooting in sports, personal defense, concealed carry, etc., with each of them bearing unique requirements, obligations, and permissions.
The Impact of Guns in Texas in Recent Years
In the past few years in Texas, approximately 3,647 people are killed by guns in a year in various ranges of situations. With a significant rate of 12.7 deaths in every 100,000 people in Texas, it has been analyzed that Texas ranks number 28 in a list of states that records the highest deaths caused by guns in the United States.
Nationally, about 40,620 people lose their lives in an average year with a significant rate of 12.2 deaths in every 100,000 people.
Over time in recent years as well, more specifically, between 2011 and 2022, gun death rates went up by 38%, against a national rate of 33% in Texas. What this means is that the number of people who died by guns in 2020 are more than the number of gun deaths in 2011. The actual difference is 1565 deaths.
Also, the rate of people who committed suicide with guns has gone up by 15%, while gun homicide in the period of 2011 to 2020 went up by a significant 90%. This can be compared to the national rate of 12% and 70%, respectively.
The rate of gun deaths has increased 38% from 2011 to 2020 in, compared to a 33% increase nationwide. This means that in 2020 there were 1565 more-gun deaths than in 2011.
In, the rate of gun suicide increased 15% and gun homicide increased 90% from 2011 to 2020, compared to a 12% increase and 70% increase nationwide, respectively.
40,620 people die by guns in an average year, a rate of 12.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
(SOURCE :How Does Gun Violence Impact the Community You Care About?)
TEXAS LAWS ON GUN CONTROL
Texas Investigations and Background Checks
Are There Universal Background Checks in Texas?
In Texas, there is no underlying law mandating that buyers of firearms from unlicensed dealers should undergo a background check. However, there are some certain law restrictions put in place that ensures the prevention of firearms purchase by individuals who are not eligible to own firearms.
Procedures of Background Check Carried Out in Texas
The law recognizes the state with the authority to carry out a background check and authentication for individuals who intend to purchase a firearm. The federal law gives the state the authority to carry out deep search on records of the federal, state and the FBI database to verify if an individual should be cleared to own a firearm.
It is because of this federal law, that Texas city firearm dealers lack the authorization to carry out background checks before selling to individuals. Rather, the dealer is expected to first make enquiries at the FBI to verify the background information. The NICS does not recognize Texas as an area of contact.
Individuals who possess handgun licenses issued by the state are not to undergo a background check by the state, when they are buying their handgun or firearms. In Texas generally, local dealers of firearms do not exercise any background checks before carrying out their transactions with buyers.
Issues Pertaining to Mental Health and Behaviors in Texas
Mentally ill individuals or individuals who have a record of metal dysfunction are unauthorized by the federal law to possess firearms or handguns. The law sees them as a danger to not only themselves but the society, due to their unstable minds. This is the major reason why they are considered unstable to possess firearms. For one to be considered as a mental patient, they must have been confirmed by a hospital, law court, a set up committee or any other recognized law agency.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has a collection of data and records that is constantly updated with facts and information, obtained from the states about individuals that have been confirmed to be mentally unfit by authorized agencies. The federal law mandates the state to provide information on the identity of the individuals whom the law has declared unauthorized to own a firearm, with which the NICS record book is updated for the FBI. The FBI now uses that for investigations/checks on anyone wanting to buy firearms in Texas, to ascertain that they are mentally fit to possess firearms.
In 2009, a law was passed that entails that the Department of Public Safety tenders their record to the FBI in not more than 30 days after the court’s declaration of:
• an individual hospitalized for mental dysfunction
• any offence committed out of insanity
• an individual who requires the presence of another person to act as a guardian due to his inability to handle their personal affairs, posing a threat to themselves.
The required information from the state to the NICS are
• Full name
• Driver’s license, or social security number
• Date of birth
• Reason for prohibition from firearms
• Previous court ruling records (if any)
The above information is provided by the court’s clerk digitally, as approved and upon being given a go ahead by the Department of Public Safety. Such pieces of information are very confidential and as such, can only be issued out by the Department only at the point of necessity to enable the NICS have a comprehensive record of individuals who are not eligible to own firearms.
When Texas Says You Can’t Carry a Gun
• Individuals who have been convicted by a law agency and found guilty of a crime or felony
• individuals declared by an authorized court to be mentally unstable
• Individuals known to exhibit violent behaviors in the society
• Individuals with a record of conviction for domestic violence
Texas Gun Legislation: When Texas Says You Are Eligible to Carry a Gun
Individuals who are below the age of 18 years are highly prohibited from owning firearms. Anyone who intentionally sells, rents, gives, or attempts to sell, rent, or give guns to minors (people under the age of 18 years old) will be punished and convicted by the state law of Texas.
But, in cases where there is a written consent by the parent or guardian of the minor, the federal law offers an exception to such cases and authorizes the sale or transfer of firearms to the minor, but also holding the parent or guardian who gave a written consent accountable for the actions of the minor.
The federal law highly restricts the sale or transfer of firearms or guns by dealers to people under the age of 21 and in regular cases, restrict the sale or transfer of rifles or shotguns to people under the age of 18. Also, it is worthy of note that, the federal law prohibits unauthorized handgun dealers to sell or transfer handguns to people under the age of 18 but permits unauthorized dealers to sell and transfer shotguns to minors who are under 18 years of age.
SALES AND PURCHASING OF HANDGUNS IN TEXAS
Firearm Dealers in Texas
To be a licensed firearms dealer, federal law instructs that interested firearms dealers should get their registered operation license. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is the authorized body to issue firearms licenses to dealers as provided by federal law.
In Texas, to operate as a regular gun dealer, you are not mandated to have a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) rather you are expected to significantly paste some signs on your storefront that entails the safety precautions for firearm’s.
Recording and Documentations of Gun Sales in Texas
There is no laid out rule mandating firearm dealers in Texas to provide information concerning their firearms sales records. Firearms dealers in Texas are not required to report their sale records to security agencies whenever a purchase is being made.
Waiting Periods for Firearms Purchasing in Texas
There is no law that dictates how long a buyer is to wait before being handed any purchased firearm in Texas.
Gun Shows or Lawful Gun Sports in Texas
Texas law does not prohibit firearms shows and displays
RESPONSIBILITIES OF GUN OWNERS
Getting a License in Texas
Firearms owners in Texas are not required to have a license as there is no law entailing such in Texas.
Gun Documentation or Registration in Texas
There is no law in Texas entailing that guns should be registered.
Documenting of Missing or Stolen Guns
There is no law mandating the reporting of stolen firearms by their owners in Texas.
CHILD AND USER GUN SAFETY
Child Control and Gun Access Prevention in Texas
In Texas, if a Minor (a person under the age of 18) gets access to an already loaded firearm that can be easily dischargeable, the owner of the firearm is held responsible because they are expected to have provided proper security to prevent the minor from access to the firearm. If the firearm is placed at a location that the owner knows or is aware that the minor can easily gain access to it, such an individual can end up being convicted for criminal negligence. If the individual leaves the firearm in dischargeable or under a trigger lock, the law does not provide an exception even for such cases because the individual is liable for conviction should a minor gain access to the gun.
Nevertheless, an individual is lawfully considered innocent in situations where:
•There was supervision by an adult (a person above the age of 18) and the purpose of firearm possession by the minor was for sporting or hunting or any other authorized reasons.
• As an act of self defense
Texas Law will completely bring the offender to justice if the child shot the gun, and it kills or severely injures themselves or anyone else.
The law frowns greatly and the punishment is greater in instances of violation in which the minor handles the gun, and that action leads to a loss of life or serious damage to them or others.
Lastly, the law mandates dealers to post the following inscription on their store post: “IT IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE TO KEEP, TRANSPORT OR LEAVE A DISCHARGEABLE GUN IN A PLACE WHERE MINORS CAN EASILY GAIN ACCESS TO THE GUN.” This is done as a warning sign and is boldly displayed for easy readability.
Storing Your Guns and Firearms
There is no law in Texas mandating gun owners to compulsorily lock their firearms from unauthorized persons, but there are rare cases where this law can be adjusted depending on the situation.
Smart Guns and Other Handguns in Texas
Guns are not mandated to be personalized in Texas law.
Toy Guns and Harmless Guns for Fun in Texas
There is no law for the restriction of toy guns and non-powder firearms in Texas.
Gun Structures and Design Standards in Texas
There is no general specifications for firearms in Texas
CARRYING OF HANDGUNS IN PUBLIC PLACES
Texas Concealed Carry & Permitless Public Carry
In Texas, firearms owners are not restricted from carrying their firearms even at public places, schools and churches provided these firearms are properly placed in a concealed casing. There is no mandatory enforcement of license, training, or investigation of background records necessary for the possession of a handgun, provided the individual carrying the firearm is about the age of 21 and is under no restrictions from the federal law for prohibition of firearms.
The only exception to this law is that ex-convicts of crimes such as felony, and other criminal charges are placed on 5 years ban from carrying firearms in public places. It is important to also note that, the restriction does not cover for possession at his/her own property, or in their private vehicle but only at public places
Not until 2021 when the above law was passed, before one could carry firearms in public, such individuals were mandated by the Texas law to complete some basic training exercises and pass a background investigation process to be able to get a license for their firearms from the department of public safety of Texas. They were also mandated to have their firearms concealed at public places. In the case of traveling or visiting other states, one was required to have obtained their gun license first before traveling out of Texas.
Meanwhile, there are certain locations in Texas where possession of firearms is restricted, such as colleges and University campuses.
PROCESSES INVOLVED IN OBTAINING CCW LICENSES
In Texas, to obtain a license for your firearms, you must be cleared by the Department of Public Safety Texas if you pass the qualification process. The law states that an individual who has lived in Texas for a period not later than 6-months is liable for a firearm license provided such an individual meets the qualification requirements.
Also, to be issued a license, one must be above the age of 21. The individual must pass the qualification requirements of the federal and state law before being eligible to buy a firearm pistol. The individual must also not be an ex-convict of a felony. Must not have any criminal charges within the last 5 years or any mental dysfunction cases within the same time frame.
The individual must not be a chemical dependent individual or a fugitive. Must have not served jail time in 2 or more time within the last 10 years duration of a previous case of Class B offense. Not have been convicted for information indictment or mentally unfit to take proper decisions regarding the use of a firearm.
Must not be suffering from mental dysfunction or a psychiatric disorder which could be affecting the individual presently or has a possibility of affecting in future after being diagnosed by an authorized person.
When necessary, more additional background investigations can be carried out by the Texas Department of Public Safety using a local database to ascertain if an individual is worthy of a firearm license a.
RESTRICTIONS REGARDING PURCHASES OF HANDGUNS AND ITS POSSESSIONS
Texas law strongly restricts the selling of firearms and explosives to certain persons, especially those restricted by the state law. Also, Texas law restricts the sale of firearms and explosives by firearm dealers from intentionally or consciously selling weapons to an individual who is drunk and intoxicated. There is also a restriction that prohibits dealers from selling explosives to ex-convicts of crimes such as domestic violence and felony. Individuals who are under supervision or serving their community service penalty are also not eligible to buy firearms and explosives.
REGULATION AND CONTROL OF EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AMMUNITIONS
Explosives of very high impact are highly prohibited for production, sell, transfer or repair in Texas. A kind of explosive that suits this description is known as armor-piercing explosive which usually, is a shotgun explosive that is basically used to go-through or penetrate an armor, a body or even metal substances. Such ammunition usually works with pistols or revolvers.
Since 2021, people can now carry handgun firearms in public places even without having a license in Texas. As a Texan, you can apply for a license to carry permit as it comes with additional advantages.
The Texas Penal Code’s Sections 46.02 and 46.04 discuss the illegal carrying and ownership of a handgun. Generally speaking, to carry a handgun in public in Texas without a license to carry, the following requirements must be met.
• The individual must be above the age of 21
• Not have been convicted for felony as explained in the Texas penal code
• Not having been recently convicted for a misdemeanor crime
• Not in possession of an expired authorization order
• Qualified to possess a firearm under the federal law rule
• Was not prohibited previous from carrying a firearm before the change to the new law
• Not under the influence of alcohol or substance (drugs)
Individuals who during the old Texas law were restricted from owning firearms cannot own firearms during the new Texas law.
Currently, Texas law doesn’t restrict anyone specifically from possessing a long gun. In this context, the long gun being a rifle, firearm, or shotgun. Be that as it may, some individuals have been restricted specifically by law from acquiring long gun firearms.
Section 46.02 of the Texas Penal Code
This section clearly states the authorized age range for owning and being in possession of a handgun firearm. It also tells the various crime convictions that restricts an individual from carrying and owning a handgun. Other limitations can be found in this section of the Texas penal code. The required details necessary for the acquisition of a handgun is also thoroughly explained in this section of the code. The section also goes on to tell the expected methods in which handguns are to be carried while inside a train, bus, or other transportation means.
Chapter 46 of The Texas Penal Code
This section tells a lot about laws concerning weapons. It highlights the various violated offenses that are common in the purchase, selling and possession of firearms and ammunition. This section also gives details on firearms and its various types. Finally, this section tells the restrictions imposed on the unauthorized possession of a firearm or ammunition especially with convicts of felony cases.
TRAINING ON FIREARM SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS
In Texas, everyone applying for a license to carry handguns must first have a proof or certification that states that they are proficient and skilled enough to get a license.
To get this required skill, such a person is required to successfully go through a classroom or online course for firearm skills and pass the range training and tests involved in a license to carry firearms course. However, only professionals or instructors who are recognized by the state are given the go ahead to deliver handgun courses or training.
It is necessary to note that every license to carry firearms course must meet the requirements of at least 4-6 hours lectures on:
•use of weapons and application of deadly force
•handgun safety precautions, its handling and how to move about with it without breaking any law
•settlements of conflicts without any kind of violence or force
•excellent ways to store firearms to avoid any form of injury of children and other adults in the environment
Also, the range training of the course must involve a real and actual display of proficiency by the potential gun owner. This is necessary even if the other part of the training was done via an online course. The essence of this is to ensure that no individual who cannot responsibly use a handgun is given a license, because if that happens, the lives of innocent people are at risk.
In the proficiency test, every license seeker must perform excellently in all the areas listed above in the handwritten or online portal examination and demonstrate gun rules and safety precautions in handling a handgun.
It is the place of the firearm trainer to recommend an approval for a license seeker by the Department of Public Safety. The trainer may also send in an affidavit stating why an individual shouldn’t be given a license, in cases where the seeker does not possess the necessary skills. The Department of Public Safety uses the trainer’s recommendations as a basis, alongside their requirements, to either issue out a license to an applicant or not.
DURATION & RENEWAL OF LICENSES IN TEXAS
When a Texas License to carry handguns has been issued, it is expected to be valid until the license owner’s birthday, calculated five years after the previous license was issued.
Renewing a license involves application materials and forms to confirm the receipt of state laws concerning firearms, laws about deadly force, where firearms are prohibited, and an application fee. Some personal data might be required as well.
DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL DATA OR USE OF INFORMATION IN TEXAS
In Texas law, the Department of Public Safety has the right to give out information about an individual who might be licensed to carry a handgun to any agency of criminal justice. The Department informs the license holder about any moves to give out details of the license holder to any agency and gives out the name of the criminal justice agency to the license holder requesting for their details.
Every document is confidential and not open to forceful disclosure, unless it is in rare cases where the purpose is totally lawful and understandable.
Texas law demands that the Department of Public Safety tenders a regular monthly statistical documentation of all the licenses that have been issued out, rejected, or denied, frozen(suspended), or canceled by the Department in the last month. It is arranged according to races, age, zip codes and gender of license holders. They give out this document if it is demanded for, with the necessary fees completely paid.
The Department also makes a yearly report and statistics regarding occurrences where people who have licenses get convicted of breaking any law. This is usually updated on their website.
In Texas law, there’s room for governors to come to agreement with other states that approve licenses or carry permits, so that the state can also recognize other licenses. However, a governor must state it out that licenses of a certain state should henceforth be recognized in Texas. However, the Attorney General carries out thorough background checks to ascertain that any license from the state can be trusted and recognized by Texas. The Attorney General carries out this scrutiny on a yearly basis since change is constant in the attributes and character of people in the society.
When certain state licenses have been verified, the names of these states are clearly indicated on the page of Texas Department of Public Safety’s Concealed Handgun License Reciprocity. Also on that page, you get to find the decree made by the governor for each state whose license to carry will be accepted in Texas.
OPEN CARRY IN TEXAS
Normally, people who are licensed to carry guns in Texas carry a handgun in public places, but Texas law has strict restrictions to openly hold a handgun in an alarming or disturbing manner (without a holster). Openly carrying a handgun like an ordinary object in public places, whether it has been loaded already or not, is generally not permitted by the law in Texas. Before now, everyone needed a license first to carry a handgun in Texas, be it openly (in a holster) or concealed. But in 2021, that legislation was adjusted, and it was proclaimed that people are totally permitted to carry a handgun in public places, even without a license to carry a handgun, so long the weapon is kept out of sight or concealed from public view.
Also, Texas law prohibits individuals from openly carrying a handgun that isn’t properly holstered in buses, boats, and other vehicles. However, people who happen to be traveling are allowed to go with their handgun for safety reasons.
Texas law does not prohibit recognized security officials from openly carrying a firearm. They are permitted by the law to do so. Other individuals as well who are within their own property, playing a lawful sport activity or hunting in accordance with the law are also permitted by Texas law to openly carry a handgun.
PUBLIC DISPLAY AND USAGE OF GUNS LAWS
What The Law Says About Standing Your Ground in Texas
Generally, laws pertaining to self-defense in Texas and the US as a whole totally justifies an individual who applies lethal force in order to protect and prevent an unavoidable death in situations that took place in the society or public. Usually, these self-defense laws in Texas make it totally understandable that one must not take any other person’s life and if that happens, the killer is not justified if killing could have been avoided by either merely threatening the perpetrator or quickly leaving the environment without getting hurt, or even avoiding the whole situation. But there is no law that says a person must leave their home or property to avoid a conflict, instead of applying force to send the intruder out of their home. This law is also known as Castle Doctrine.
Texas laws on” stand your ground” permits a person to apply lethal force in public, if it is necessary for self-defense and protection, and even if such a situation could have been avoided with mere threats.
Texas law does not demand that you must leave any place where you have a right to be there but permits you to use deadly force when it is necessary, when it isn’t a criminal activity and when you never started or caused violence with the other person.
In Texas also, there’s a law to defend your property with the use of lethal force if someone is trying to make away with your property. You have every right to get back your stolen property with the use of force.
HARDWARE & AMMUNITION
Ammunition Regulation in Texas
There is no law in Texas that dictates a certain age range permitted to purchase or own a handgun.
Texas law also does not demand that a seller must document information about people who buy ammunition from them.
Texas law also does not demand a certain license to be allowed to own or sell firearms.
To learn more about Texas License to carry firearms, its procedures, rules, and regulations, reach out to us today via any of our platforms or simply leave a message on our website here. We are happy to be of help anytime, any day.